A New Day

This year has seemed so short in its passing and yet so much has been done and has happened. I have finished my second year here at Saint Xavier and it doesn’t seem real. I am going to be a junior in the fall. To be honest, it’s frightening to see that my school career here is already halfway over. It seems like only a short time ago I was still a high schooler anxious of my future in college. Now, I am a college student and I am anxious about what the future after college will be like. Much thought has gone through my head as this year became the pivotal moment in my and my family’s life. My father is retiring after twenty-odd years of hard manual work, and with that, a new change in our family dynamic. It is said that sophomore year is when a student “gets it.” What that is can be debated. Is it when a student finally realizes that their major was the wrong one? Or is it that they realize what they were called for, in the lack of a better word? I find it to be the latter. After volunteering at the Salem United Church of Christ’s PAPS or Homeless Shelter and with SXU’s Bread Truck and just interacting with people, I realized that I did indeed pick the right career in mind. I found that going out there and helping others was not just the wholesome thing a person should do but also a fun one. There is no point in a career or education if you’re not having fun. I want to enjoy what I’m doing in my livelihood. That is what I believe.

Finals are next week. I have my first one tomorrow. I’m not completely stressed out like a lot of my friends, but it does have me thinking. Once they are done with, what is there to do? What more can I do here until next semester? And what am I to do this summer? I am hopeful that I will get a job to help support my family. Since my brother is graduating college in the next two weeks, there is an excitement and an anxiety for him as well. Will he get a job following graduation? Will my parents be able to pay the payments of the Parent Plus Loan? All these spiral in my head as I crack a carefree joke to my friends. I don’t want to be a bother, and so I keep it away. This is my problem, why share it? Maybe that’s my mistake. But I can’t worry about that now, finals are here.

I feel that this year was a good one. I made new friends and cemented ones I know will last me a lifetime. My heart warms and pangs at the knowledge that many will graduate this year while I will be left behind. I live far away and visiting them is beyond the question. But I am confident this is not the end. I smile knowing that, but I frown for the future. I feel anxious looking to what the future entails, but I am hopeful that at least this step in my life is over and much more are to come as my aspirations to become a teacher draw ever nearer. Now I look out my window, the sun is setting. End comes this day but there comes the promise of tomorrow which is uncertain. Uncertain as it is, it is beautiful what this new day shall bring.

The End is Here!

Hello, loyal readers! This is the last post for this school year! Crazy, right?! Where did the school year go?

This past Monday, I started my week off at Columbia Explore Academy for my last hours for middle school education requirements. Although it wasn’t my last day going, it started to hit me that this was the last week of classes… It flew by so fast!

IMG_0113 (1)On Monday evening, I was able to attend the Scarlet and Grey Awards. The previous week I was notified that I was nominated for the Cougar Award. They had such great nominations for this award I feel blessed to have been nominated. Although, I didn’t get the Cougar Award, I did receive the John the Baptist Award with the description of “for calling us to a deeper commitment to our faith, challenging us to act for justice, and witnessing to a life of truth and love.” I just feel so blessed and taken aback about being awarded this award!

On Tuesday, I started off my morning with a tour. Being a student ambassador is one of my favorite things that I get to do on campus. I love getting to work with prospective students! If anything, it reminds me of where I was once at, and how fortunate I am to be at a school that I consider my home.

IMG_0124That evening, right before my last teaching ESL course, I stopped to grab some free food that was being served by President Wiseman. Maybe it’s just me, but how cool is it that the president of our university serves students food? How many presidents do you know who do that?

If anyone has the chance to take a class with Professor Hilton, I would for sure do so. Out of all my best professors I have had so far in the School of Education, he truly got me excited about teaching middle school. IMG_0131 (1)His experience before teaching at SXU was all middle school education. His stories and experience truly brought the class to life. His assignments had us students thinking about who our support system was, who our great teachers had been, and why we wanted to be teachers. And it’s just a great class. Every assignment, project and presentation, I feel like I learned so much… Sad to have it end… (Ana and Professor Hilton in picture.)

I am sorry to say that Wednesday wasn’t all that exciting of a day for me. I started my day off with a tour, then class, and then my last meeting with Bridget for the year. (Bridget is my campus ministry advisor).

IMG_0146On Thursday, I started my morning with my lovely 8 a.m. class and then I got to go to my last day at Columbia Explore Academy. I had to go an extra day on Thursday because my ESL endorsement requires extra hours. I know I have talked about this observation a lot, but it truly was such a great experience. My teacher allowed me to actually teach! And you could truly see a connection from Ms. W to her students; something that I hope to have someday in my own classroom. Everyone was so sweet that they even signed a card for me. I will miss getting to go to the Columbia early Monday mornings.

On Friday, I had my last class. (Yayyyy!) Later on Friday, I finally found out where I will be living for University Housing next year. For those who missed the previous post, I am currently a RPM (Resident Peer Minister) in Regina Hall (the first year hall) on the all-girls floor. I have completely loved my job every step of the way. IMG_0174I love getting to work with first-year students and hopefully, provide them with the support and guidance they need. Next year, I will be going on year three living in Regina Hall, and I will be just down the hall from where I currently live now. I am going to be a RA (resident assistant), and I am so excited for the staff for next year and to work with them all. I feel especially proud because two of my residents are now RPMs. To make it even better, Susie, one of my residents that I consider a friend, is literally taking my current job and room. Could not be prouder of her! (Susie and I are presented in the picture.)

On Saturday, I had a chill day prepping for finals week and working on papers. Not all that fun, but necessary.

IMG_0194On Sunday, I convinced my boyfriend to join me downtown for some exploring of the sites. We went to the Field Museum and got to see the Terracotta Warriors exhibit, which was great. I love history and being a history major can somewhat suck sometimes because going to museums normally means that I already know most of the information… But it was amazing getting to see pieces from the burial site.

Sunday evening, I attended the last service for this year at SXU. With a focus on finals we had “Blessing of the Brains,” which is just a blessing for everyone before going into finals.

I wanted to end my post by saying thank you to everyone in my life…

I want to thank Campus Ministry for not just giving me a job but also giving me a place of faith, service, and meaning. One person who I could always come to within Campus Ministry to talk about service and life was Meg Laville. She will be doing long-term service next year and will truly be missed by anyone who knows her.

I also want to thank my residents. They’ve shown me the true beauty of being excited and fresh to school. My residents who have a hunger for adventure and trying new things remind me of when I was in their place. Their ability to create a new community and relationships is to be admired. Thank you to all my residents who made my job so great to have!

FullSizeRender (24)Thank you to Brittany who somehow is still my friend after this crazy year… I know that you are a great friend and that I can always depend on you. Also want to give a shout out to the only other middle school education major that I spend my whole day, Ana. Thanks for dealing with my over controlling organized self in all our classes. And especially thanks for driving to get tacos. Love the tacos!

Jon, thanks for dealing with my crazy self. Thanks for feeding me! (Just kidding… kinda.)IMG_0210

And thank you to my lovely family For the calls to being supportive, sending pictures, keeping me somewhat up to date, and just unconditional love. Can’t wait to be home this summer, even though I will be missing SXU and Chicago!

I want to thank SXU itself as a whole for creating a community that I could have never had imagined so many opportunities and such a great place to call home. I can’t wait to be back in August. See you in August, SXU!

Thank you, Saint Xavier!

Welcome back,

I am going to give a quick update regarding some exciting things that have happened to me in the last week and then I will close my final blog with a reflection on my time here at Saint Xavier.

Last Wednesday, I attended the College of Arts and Sciences Award Ceremony and was named an Outstanding Communication Student of 2016! It was such an honor to receive this award from the Communication Department. While I do work very hard in my courses and with student media, anyone that knows me well knows that I am very hard on myself and my work. I rarely consider myself or anything I do to be good, let alone outstanding. So, this award and the fact that my professors see my work as outstanding means more to me than I could ever express!

Outstanding Communication Student

Outstanding Communication Student

Additionally on Friday, we celebrated my mom’s retirement. She has been principal of Beecher Elementary School for the past 15 years and has accomplished so much in that time. I am beyond proud of her and excited to celebrate this new phase of her life! So much of my success at Saint Xavier is a result of her love and support (and money), so I am so happy to be able to celebrate her.

Happy retirement, Mom!

Happy retirement, Mom!

I am about five days away from graduation as I type this blog. Everything seems surreal at this point. While the last four years have been some of the most difficult of my life, it still feels like I moved into my freshman dorm yesterday.

As I reflect on my time at Saint Xavier, I am flooded with so many thoughts and memories. My freshman year was one of the most fun and exciting years of my life. I made some amazing friends and memories that I still look back on and laugh or smile about to this day. It was a whole new world for my sister and I.

When tragedy struck our family just a few weeks after we returned home for the summer, our lives changed forever. After losing my father suddenly, I knew I didn’t have the strength to return to SXU in the fall.  But something pushed me back, carried me back. Losing my dad has made every day since a painful struggle. My sophomore year, I cried to my mom on the phone every single day about how badly I wanted to quit and come home. Yet, everyday I would wake up, get dressed and go to class, completing tasks successfully one after another as if someone else was doing them for me. I know now that is was my dad who has been carrying me through the last three years, which is why graduation will be the most bittersweet day of my life thus far. This will be the first major event that my dad will miss. I began this journey with him by my side as I cried when they left me on my own for the first time. I end this journey walking across the stage with one very important audience member missing. He should be here — not just to support Ally and I, but because so much of this accomplishment belongs to him. Yet, deep inside I know he would be so proud and ecstatic about all that we have accomplished. He was our biggest fan. So, as I walk across the stage on Saturday, I know that someone very special is walking with me, just as he always has. I can firmly and proudly say…this is for you, dad.

Thank you to everyone who has played a role, big or small, in getting me to this day. Thank you to my mom, my siblings and my friends for supporting me and keeping me laughing during some of the most dark and difficult times. Thank you to the SXU community for teaching me, helping me find my voice and passion, and giving me a platform on which to speak my mind and share my life for the last four years! It has been a pleasure sharing my experiences with you through this blog. Congratulations to the class of 2016, enjoy this moment! Once a Cougar, always a Cougar!

Until next time…